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Blog update – moving home

August 30, 2009

The past month has been a busy one both at work, getting ready for the new academic year, and at home, planning the next month’s DIY jobs. Thankfully I’ve had a few days off from both over the Bank Holiday weekend and have been doing some much needed improvements on the blog.

I’ve been contemplating it for some time and this afternoon have finally moved myself from to This blog can now be found at

To keep up with my posts, which will get back on track shortly, please update your feed.


A day in the life of a librarian (r2) – Friday

August 1, 2009

So the week is at an end and so is this round of the Library Day in the Life project. The following is an account of my day on Friday 31st July:

07:00 – the usual morning routine; shower, tea, breakfast, feed the cats, catch the bus.

08:30 – arrived at work and checked personal email, Twitter and Facebook

08:45 – remapped the library staff network drive which I lost last night and sent out a reading list to a student. The only email to arrive overnight was to say that my mailbox is full so sorting that out was my first task of the day.

09:00 – desk duty. Only 4 books to shelve today. I took the stack returns down to the collection point.

09:30 – head count: 9

09:40 – the printer problem from Wednesday evening was back again; it’s sod’s law that all the hardware breaks down when theses are due!

10:10 – the LMS went down and so did University webmail

10:45 – the LMS came back up as I was going on my break. I checked in two previously returned items before I left. Over my break I checked email, Twitter and Facebook and caught up on sports news and checked the 5 day weather forecast – looking bad for my trip to the sea next week.

11:05 – back on the desk, rebooted self issue which had gone down as a result of the LMS downtime. Received a parcel of goodies; well pens, pencils and leaflets about a new database, from ProQuest.

11:30 – head count: 21

11:40 – discovered a problem with our Datastream software. Received upgrade instructions from the vendor.

12:10 – lots of requests for past student projects this morning, back and forth to the stacks.

12:40 – rebooted the self-issue again. LMS downtime was caused by a major power outage at computing services. Lots of rebooting of servers going on.

13:00 – lunch (same as yesterday). Looked at the cricket for the first time today. Australia 203-8. Best quote from TMS (Test Match Special) inbox “This is a collapse of English proportions!!” from David in Gerards Cross. Listened to the end of Filmspotting podcast that I started on the bus this morning.

14:00 – rearranged the piles of papers on my desk. Tried to resolve issue of upgrading Datastream by installing it on my PC. That worked so planned to try again with reader PCs later in the afternoon.

14:50 – answered a few BLA emails re: posting database deals on the website.

15:00 – demo of Perfect Information database

16:00 – break; email came through while doing the demo that my CILIP membership has been processed. Messed about in Commuities section of the CILIP website during break.

16:15 – tried to update Datastream on reader PCs but don’t have the admin rights.

16:30 – wanted to read a few chapters of Developing Information Leaders: harnessing the talents of Generation X by Marisa Urgo but got caught up locating an article for someone. Had a quick chat with my manager about use of library team email group as opposed to generic library email address and responsibilities for reading lists.

17:20 – left to catch the bus home. Home about 18:15, ate tea (pesto pasta) and received Sainsburys delivery, our first foray into online grocery shopping. Couldn’t settle so we decided to walk in to town, approx. 6 miles, along the tow path to get some ice cream – crazy I know but the ice cream at G&D’s is well worth it. The walk took a little under 2 hours. Caught the bus home around 22:30.

A day in the life of a librarian (r2) – Thursday

July 30, 2009

The following is written for the Library Day in the Life project. It is an account of my day on Thursday 30th July.

07:00 – as Laura’s on leave this week I’ve been getting up at 7. When we’re both heading out for work at the same time and there’s a fight for the bathroom the alarm usually goes off at 6:30.

08:30 – I got on the 07:50 bus and was in work by 08:30. I popped to M&S at the station to get some fresh milk – due to staff leave I’m milk monitor for the week! Back at desk checked personal email, Twitter and Facebook.

09:00 – shelving, I did about 10 books. There were probably only 20 total.

09:05 – emailed database supplier and supplier liaison officer about publicising a trial through BLA

09:15 – meeting with manager – they tend to be ad hoc, I often pop in to her office throughout the day to discuss things. Talked about my role and where she sees it going; much more focus on learning about the subject – sounds interesting. Started to investigate potential training events. Made some decisions about what pre-course services we can offer the new intake.

09:40 – emailed course coordinators about said pre-course services.

09:50 – answered emails, set up meetings for next week, looked at timetable for effective literature searching course running at beginning of term.

10:25 – coffee + RSS feeds

10:45 – wrote policy document on library marketing and communications.

12:00 – lunch (humus, pitta and carrot sticks) – popped in to town to buy birthday cards for colleagues. That’s 3 in 2 weeks.

13:00 – desk duty! As it is so quiet I took the opportunity to re-organise my files. I inherited so much paperwork when I took on this role but haven’t had a chance, or the inclination, to really go through it and decide what to keep and what not.

14:30 – desk update: 2 requests to add printing credit, unjammed the printer 4 times, asked IT to replace duplexer in printer to stop jamming problem, showed someone how to renew their books online.

15:00 – head count: 26. Yet another remote access issue, problem accessing Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization. Wrote an email template for all staff to use when answering these queries.

15:30 – break. RSS feeds – read this article from the Guardian

15:50 – returned to the desk. Received some stack books back from reader. Someone came to pay fines for a friend. Helped a man to use the door – he pushed the button to get out and then was waiting for something to happen!

16:30 – head count: 23

17:15 – the person on evening shift had lost track of time so changeover was delayed. Managed to leave about 17:30 and head off to catch the bus home. Lunatic bus driver had trouble with the brakes and sent us flying on a number of occasions.

18:30 – arrived home to find Laura sitting on the stairs with a cat on her knee. Put tea (left overs from sausage and bean stew) on to cook while I had a shower.

19:30 – after eating I put the second coat of varnish on the shelves in the garage, Laura had done the first coat earlier. A quick check of the emails, Facebook and Twitter and now I’m writing this post. Going to sit down at 21:00 to eat ice cream and watch The Inbetweeners on catch-up.

A day in the life of a librarian (r2) – Wednesday

July 29, 2009

Here’s an account of my day on Wednesday 29th July for the Library Day in the Life project.

08:00 – the best thing about working the late shift is the leaisurely morning it affords you. Today I woke up at 8, made myself a cup of tea, fed the cats and returned to bed to start A Venetian Reckoning by Donna Leon. Since visiting Venice earlier this year where I was given a Donna Leon mystery to read I’m working my way through her back catalogue. I got up around 9 and moved to the sofa to eat breakfast and watch another episode of The Wire. I’ve looked back at the last week I chronicled for this project and there’s a lot of mentions of The Wire there too. Then I was on season 2, now it’s season 4.

10:00 – showered, dressed, did a few jobs in the kitchen and packed my stuff for the day. Left the house around 10:45 and caught the bus into town.

11:25 – stopped at the station on my way in to work to buy train tickets for the upcoming BLA committee meeting. I think I saw Jeanette Winterson.

11:40 – arrived at work, checked personal email, Twitter, Facebook

11:50 – checked work email, wrote a to-do list for the day.

12:05 – taking the post down to the post room I noticed that there was a screw loose in the door frame which was jamming it open – not a good sign when access is only available to those with a swipe card. I removed the screw which was really mangled and asked maintenance to replace it.

12:15 – chatted to manger about copyright and how there’s little information on the subject available for academics. One of the tasks I’ve been putting off is writing something on copyright for staff, she’s now going to take this on – yay!

12:30 – dealt with some database issues

13:15 – after a day away from Captivate yesterday I had to spend some considerable time on it this afternoon.

15:00 – renewals screencast finished and sent to team for feedback. Next time I do this remind me to leave the hardest one til last! Time to get started on reservations screencast – should be a lot simpler.

15:40 – covered the info desk during staff break. Checked library calendar for next few weeks and synched with my own. Topped up someone’s print credit – the only contact I had with anyone whilst on desk. Watched online tutorial from CASS looking for tips for my own.

16:00 – returned to the office thinking I need to do some work on my use of my calendar and to do lists – I haven’t found a solution that works for me yet.

16:15 – break time. It’s been reaining all day so I treated myself to a coffee – unfortunately it tasted like it was made with cream not milk, bleurgh. Checked my personal email, and Facebook.

16:45 – resolved a longstanding remote access issue for student trying to access ebooks.

17:00 – out to the desk. On my lonesome tonight due to staff leave. On a Wednesday there would usually be two of us here til 6 then me from 6-7. Spent most of the evening tidying up loose ends and writing induction plan.

17:20 – issued stack books to a reader; when she returned them I had a momentary yearning to do some research but I think it’s just a desire to have some time where I can actually get some reading done.

17:30 – head count: 23.

17:35 – problem with the b&w printer cannot be fixed by our IT team. I put an an out of order sign on it for overnight with the promise they’d switch it out in the morning.

17:45 – read library RSS feeds

18:05 – checked team webmail; replied to student with remote access issue. There seem to be a lot of these lately. Returned to my induction plan.

18:30 – head count: 21.

18:45 – just one visitor in the library this evening who came to claim his card well in advance of kicking out time.

19:00 – closed up the desk and left on time.

20:00 – home by 20:00. Laura had returned from visiting her mum and she was cooking Toad in the Hole for tea. We’ve eaten and are now sitting watching junk on TV whilst I write this post.

A day in the life of a librarian (r2) – Tuesday

July 28, 2009

Day 2 of the Library Day in the Life project. Here is an account of my day on Tuesday 28th July 2009:

07:00 – no noisy cats this morning, I woke up to the alarm and not a minute sooner. It was gloriously sunny out which always helps me get back on the bike.

08:10 – I left on time (07:30) but there was a strong headwind so arrived at work a few minutes later than usual. After a shower I checked my personal email, Twitter and Facebook.

08:45 – answered some work emails mostly for BLA (Business Librarians’ Association), a group which I am web officer for, before heading off to LibStats training.

09:30 – LibStats training was “interesting”. LibStats is a new web based system being brought in for next year’s library stats collection. I’m not sure it was necessary to have an hour long training session for this. An online tutorial might have been better but as far as I can see it’s a simple system which anyone could pick up and use without training. I didn’t have high hopes of the training and this was compounded when the demo failed because too many people (20) using it at once made the system crash.

10:15 – on my way back to the library I helped a couple moor their narrow boat. They really didn’t have a clue what they were doing – I’m not sure people should be let out if they don’t know the basics.

10:40 – a quick coffee and a few turns at Scrabble.

11:00 – I had no responsibilities on the desk today but had lots of enquiries this morning. Here are a sample: exporting data from ORBIS, accessing market reports, loan extensions for students on placement, access to past projects.

12:30 – lunch (humus and roast veg baguette). Finished the ongoing Scrabble game – I won! Bought some carrot and walnut cake to have with my afternoon tea.

13:00 – returned to my desk to do some stuff online technically still on lunch break but found it difficult to avoid being drawn in to discussion of what stats we should be collecting, how this has been done in the past and how we want to do it going forward.

13:45 – sorted out a VPN issue for a student on placement who needs it to log in to one of our market research databases. Answered a few more emails.

14:25 – hit a wall, a cup of tea helped me through it.

14:30 – scanned some documents to send out to placement students. Today seemed to be a day for solving remote access issues.

15:00 – began to plan contents of induction packs. We’re completely overhalling our induction sessions for the new year. Work on it today involved designing a business card for the library.

16:15 – working on an updated floor plan for the library to go on the website and noticeboard.

16:35 – I learnt how to replace the receipt roll in the self issue machine. I think this was my greatest achievement today!

16:40 – caught up on library RSS feeds

16:55 – tidied my desk and cleared my in tray

17:15 – home time. Unfortunately sunglasses were not needed for cycle home.

18:25 – stopped at Sainsburys on the way home to pick up cat food; never mind that there’s little human food in the house so long as the kittens are fed eh?

19:00 – dinner (sausage and bean stew) and an episode of The Wire. I plan to watch In Bruge later – I’m in late tomorrow so I can afford to stay up late!

A day in the life of a librarian (r2) – Monday

July 27, 2009

Here we go again playing along with the Library Day in the Life project. I am a Senior Information Librarian in the business school at the University of Oxford. What follows is an account of my day on Monday 27th July.

06:00 – Jem woke me up perping (she doesn’t miaow, or even squeak, like normal cats) around 6. Hoping she’d eventually get bored I dozed until the alarm went off at 7. After a lovely sunny weekend the rain has returned – I’m glad I had an excuse to catch the bus. I got a slightly later one than usual and arrived at work at 08:30.

08:30 – Technically I don’t start work until 08:45 so my day usually starts catching up on private email, checking Twitter and Facebook.

08:45 – it was my turn to open up the library which involves switching all the lights on, setting up the information desk, collecting books for reshelving and collecting the newspapers. During the vacation there’s not much to do to get ship shape in mornings although with fewer staff in as a result of holidays shelving took a while.

09:20 – I started the day proper answering emails; a few access queries, some BLA (Business Librarians’ Association) account queries and providing information about a new printing/copying system we’re getting for the new academic year.

10:00 – had an interesting discussion about remote access as a result of issues accessing e-books off campus. For everything else students are prompted to log in to their accounts when off campus but for some reason links to e-books from the catalogue have not been set up this way. This leaves us with a problem of how to link to e-books in reading lists?

10:15 – time out to read an article from Friday’s THES – “Who should be buying books – undergraduates or their libraries?

10:20 – spent 20 minutes on the info desk covering staff breaks. Absolutely nothing happened!

10:45 – took my break; well grabbed a coffee and had a quick check of Twitter before making a call to chase down the requestor of a Freedom of Information report that turned up earlier in the morning addressed only to the School with no specific department or person mentioned.

11:00 – I answered a few circulation queries from the desk and met with my manager to discuss the new printing/copying system, a bookstall for the start of term and some upcoming training sessions. Booked myself on said training sessions; Librarians as Consultants and LibStats.

12:00 – so it was 12 before I finally started on my main project for the day – creating screencasts to demonstrate how to renew and request books online.

13:00 – Lunchtime. Having been away over the weekend there was no food in the house to make a packed lunch so I bought a tuna baguette from the common room. I continued “the longest game of Scrabble EVER” held over from last Tuesday!

14:00 – back to work I collected the inter-library book delivery and returned to the screencasts.

14:45 – took a quick look at the library’s Facebook page which was set up this morning. Looking for some good applications and working out which RSS feeds we want to link to page. Once again back to editing the screencasts in Captivate.

15:40 – I find when working with Captivate I need to take breaks fairly often so I tinkered around with admin rights on OxItems (the University’s RSS feed publisher) trying to add a new author; alas I don’t have the permissions so sent off an email to get things sorted.

15:55 – time for a cuppa accompanied by JISC’s video on Microblogging

16:10 – back to the screencasts.

16:30 – finally solved my FOI mystery and spent 5 minutes trying to find the culprits pigeon hole! Why are they not alphabetical?

16:40 – back to the screencast for the last few minutes of the day.

17:00 – I left a little early today (usualy finish time is 17:15) so I could get home and eat before hockey. Tea was filled pasta and tomato sauce – I seem to revert to my student ways when I’m home alone.

19:00 – blogged my day and now off out to hockey. I’ll update you later one the result…

Update: we drew 3-3. It was not a particularly pleasant match for the last game of the summer but I survived.

A day in the life of a librarian

July 24, 2009

In January I took part in the Library Day in the Life project started by Librarian by Day, Bobbi Newman. The premise of the project is that librarians and library workers will blog about what they do on an average day. As a lot of librarians don’t have an average day most people choose to blog about their activities daily for a week. You can see my posts from the project listed under the librarydayinthelife tag.

As it has been such a success it’s running for a second time this year during the week beginning 27th July. I will be taking part again. And I’d encourage you to do the same. Why? Well here are a few things I got out of it:

  • In January I’d just started a new job but in the same library – the day in the life project was a great chance for me to chart that process.
  • Even six months down the line it’s good to go back and read what I was doing that week to see how my role is evolving. It’ll be even better to come back to it in six years time.
  • Reading about other people’s days gave me a real perspective on the vast range of roles librarians have. Even if you might have a similar job title and description your day to day activities can vary widely.
  • It’s a great advert for librarians. I mentioned in my post on the New Professionals conference that few people really understand what I do when I say I’m a librarian. If I tell people about what I get up to in the course of a week with these posts then they might have a better understanding of my role.

To take part yourself just follow the steps on the Library Day in the Life wiki.